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Fluorescent Probe Can Track Cancer Drug Progress

Fluorescent Probe Can Track Cancer Drug Progress

Fluorescent Probe Can Track Cancer Drug Progress

Fluorescent Probe Can Track Cancer Drug Progress

Shown here is a pseudo-colored scanning electron micrograph of an oral squamous cancer cell (white) being attacked by two cytotoxic T cells (red), part of a natural immune response. Nanomedicine researchers are creating personalized cancer vaccines by loading neoantigens identified from the patient's tumor into nanoparticles. When presented with immune stimulants, this activates the patient's own immune system, leading to expansion of tumor-specific cytotoxic T cells. Credit: Rita Elena Serda/ National Cancer Institute/ Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center at Baylor College of Medicine
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The light-sensitive technology is able to detect which key immune cells – a  small group known as T cells – are involved in attacking tumours.

T cells generate a toxic protein known as granzyme B, which can kill cancer cells. This protein can also chop the probe in half and release a fluorescent light signal, which lets scientists know that the immune system is fighting against the cancer.

A team from the University of Edinburgh says the approach will assist clinicians in the development of treatment plans. 

Further development of the tool could help detection of tiny changes inside the body’s tissues, making it easier to monitor the effectiveness of anti-cancer treatments, researchers say.

Doctors could use the technology in the future to monitor quickly how cancer patients are responding to treatment, by directly tracking the activity of T cells in tissue biopsies or in blood samples.

This could allow doctors to make immediate changes to treatment plans, which help to clear the cancer faster and avoid potential side effects of non-effective treatments.

The study is published in the journal Nature Communications. It was funded by the European Commission, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, the Medical Research Council, Cancer Research UK and others.

Professor Marc Vendrell, of the University of Edinburgh’s Centre for Inflammation Research, said: “This is an important advance in our abilities to study the role that T cells play in tumours. We hope this technology will accelerate the design of personalised therapies for cancer patients and make them more effective against all tumours.”

Reference: Scott JI, Mendive-Tapia L, Gordon D, et al. A fluorogenic probe for granzyme B enables in-biopsy evaluation and screening of response to anticancer immunotherapies. Nat Commun. 2022;13:2366. doi: 10.1038/s41467-022-29691-w 


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